I love my mother.
You know if I open with a line like that, there is bound to be a "but" following somewhere.
Since I left home at the age of 18, and until just under a year ago, my mother and I had been separated by a 10-hour car journey/2 hour flight/several "low" countries. This seemed to work fairly well for both of us. We saw each other relatively regularly, for a week or so at a time. Then my husband and I had children. My parents were fantastic - they came over and really helped out in those first few horrible sleep-deprived months, but I always knew it was for a limited period each time.
A couple of years down the line, my father retired, and they decided it was time to leave "the continent" and return to Blighty. This had always been the intention, but I suppose the arrival of grandchildren cemented the plan. My father is a Barnsley lad, and we had spent our periods in the UK in Cheshire, but they decided to move "darn Sarf" to be near the grandchildren. Since last May, we therefore now find ourselves within 10 minutes' drive of each other, and it has taken some time to adjust.
My mother and I resemble each other physically, but have always been complete opposites in terms of character. I am more like my father - reserved, introverted, fairly untidy. She is outgoing, bubbly and an OBSESSIVE cleaner. (My dad swears she wasn't like that when he met her, although my grandmother was apparently the same - is it hereditary? If yes, it only manifests itself in later life.)
Earlier this week, I came home from work to find that my parents had been round - they've got a key and have been popping by a fair amount as they are collecting some wood from our garden. I knew this by the fact that my kitchen had been tidied up. So far, so freaky. The thing that really made me fly into a rage, however, was that mum had taken my washing out of the machine, and replaced it with a completely different load. The machine had been on a timer, due to finish when I got back from work. She had taken one look at it, realised the laundry inside was dry, and the machine was "flashing strangely" and assumed something was wrong. Suffice to say, I completely flew off the handle at her (it had not been a good day at work), and managed to reduce her to tears.
I understand that I may come across as completely irrational - she was, after all, only trying to help. To say I felt guilty about going berserk is an understatement. However, I think I might finally have got the point across to her that I am no longer 6 years old (add another 30 to that), and that I am quite happy to wallow in my own chaos. The only question now is - how long is it going to last?...